Monday, January 14, 2008

Caught On Tape: Radiohead's Video Archives

In keeping with Steve's recent post regarding Radiohead, I've decided to dive into the band's deep catalog to summon a couple of favorite music videos. Not an easy challenge when you consider how many great videos the band has filmed. In fact, few other artists have consistently put out videos of the same caliber. So while this column could survive on Radiohead alone for the next several months, I have decided to narrow down the list into a single post.

Listeners who first came to know of the band during their mainstream breakthrough likely remember the standout single and video to
"Karma Police." The video plays like a scene from a dark, gritty mafia flick. Vocalist Thom Yorke sits backseat in the slow pursuit of a man on foot. As the title implies, the tables soon turn, and the hunter becomes the hunted.

Other memories might recall the visually lush shopping cart video for
"Fake Plastic Trees," or the bizarrely entertaining animation for "Paranoid Android."

A captivating exchange at a diner plays into a dramatic conclusion on
"High and Dry."

The video for
"Just" is a slowly unraveling mystery that leaves as many questions as answers. Fans are still arguing over what exactly it is the man says at the end.

But perhaps two of my absolute favorite video picks from Radiohead are
"Knives Out" and "Street Spirit (Fade Out)."

With 2001's
Amnesiac album, the band released "Knives Out." Directed by Michael Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), the surrealistic video is accomplished through the heavy use of choreographed character props and one single filming take that revolves around the set design. The complicated process ended in a well-realized artistic statement. Watch the result below:

"Street Spirit (Fade Out)" was directed back in 1995 by Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast; aforementioned "Karma Police"). Easily my pick for Radiohead's most visually stunning effort, this video was shot using different frame speeds to allow the characters and objects to intersect and float through space at different time signatures. Shimmering in silver B&W, every still of this video could be displayed as its own photograph. Possibly among the best music videos ever made:

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